LIAM SCALES has played every single minute of Celtic’s Champions League adventure this season.

The Republic of Ireland international defender has watched the team concede 12 goals in four games – including the 6-0 mauling in Madrid last time out – and are still looking for their first win in Group E.

And as Scales prepares for the very real prospect of another torrid evening in Rome against Lazio tonight, the centre-back insisted he was living the DREAM.

The 25-year-old centre-back, who is under contract at Parkhead until June 2025, has put talks of an extension on the backburner to concentrate on enjoying life at the club he supported while growing up in Dublin.

UP FOR THE CHALLENGE…Liam Scales displays his determination as he climbs high to clear against Ross County.

Brendan Rodgers has already stated he would like to settle the player’s long-term future and Scales said emphatically: “I’m loving it here at the moment. As a kid from Ireland, this is where I’d want to be and playing regularly. I’m happy here and I definitely wouldn’t want to rush away from it.

“Playing every week, it’s the happiest I’ve been in football these last few months. If I can do that for as long as I can then brilliant.

“But I put these things [contracts]to the back of my mind and let other people deal with that so I can get on with what goes on on the pitch. It’s great to hear the manager say that.

“It shows I’ve impressed and done what I’ve always wanted to do – get into the team and play regularly.”

Scales is ready to go into the frontline again this evening where he and his team-mates know a win is a must to keep alive hopes of playing in Europe after Christmas.

The left-sided back-four performer, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It’s been brilliant. The stadiums have been amazing and it has just been a great experience overall to be playing in these places against these teams.

“This is the peak of club football. To be here in this situation and playing against these massive clubs in these stadiums, it is a bit of a dream, to be fair.

THAT’S MY BHOY…Brendan Rodgers congratulates Liam Scales on another job well done.

“I do sort of take that into account and try to take it in as much as I can and enjoy it as much as I can, because you never know how many games you are going to play in the Champions League. I just want to make the most of this opportunity.

“We obviously need to go and win the game to have a chance of staying in Europe and that is what we are here to do. We try to go into every game trying to win. We know it is do or die, we win or we’re out.

“It does motivate you to go and do the best you can. It has been tough, but we’ll definitely have a right go.”

Rodgers has watched in dismay as three players have been dismissed in the team’s previous two games on the road – Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Holm in the 2-0 loss to Feyenoord in Rotterdam and Daizen Maeda in the landslide loss to Atletico Madrid.

Referees are quick to flash the red card in Europe and Scales added: “I’ve noticed it in all the European games I’ve played. At Shamrock Rovers, I got sent off in a Champions League qualifier and I would have got away with the challenge in the league.

“You have to be really, really careful. I remind myself constantly through the game. Once you pick up a yellow card you can’t really make another tackle.

“Against Atletico that was kind of the deciding factor. We were 1-0 down when the sending-off happened. The game changed and they controlled it completely.

“Afterwards, we just said it was a lesson learned. You can’t go away to these places and expect to still be in with a chance with 10 men. These teams are ruthless. I wouldn’t say our players have been ill-disciplined, I’d just say we need to be more careful.

“Against Lazio at home, I think first-half we were definitely the better team. The way it finished – scoring a goal that was disallowed and then conceding late on – it was a tough to take. Probably the toughest one we’ve had this year.

“I think we all just want to go and win and show we can do it at this level. We know we can, we have come close and it is just about being ruthless and getting over the line.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Lazio v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.

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